Candidate registration for the 11-12 April by-election in the Menoufiya governorate district of Talla closed Monday. More than 30 candidates have put forward their names since registration opened on 7 March.
The Higher Election Committee (HEC) announced last week that a ballot will be held in Talla district to elect a new MP to replace Anwar Al-Sadat who was stripped of parliamentary membership on 27 February.
Al-Sadat, a nephew of late president Anwar Al-Sadat and head of the Reform and Development Party, lost his seat after the House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee found him guilty of leaking information to international institutions in order to “tarnish the image of parliament”.
The committee said Al-Sadat was also guilty of forging the signatures of 16 MPs on draft laws he had prepared on criminal procedures and NGOs and leaking a government-drafted NGO law to EU ambassadors in Egypt.
Al-Sadat cannot stand in his old seat because the constitution prohibits the candidacy of MPs dismissed for ethical violations. Two members of Al-Sadat’s family — his brothers Zein and Effat — have registered as candidates.
Effat Al-Sadat, head of the Sadat Democratic Party, said his brother Anwar was guilty of making big mistakes and he decided to run to correct theme.
“The Al-Sadat family has always been pro-regime. Anwar Al-Sadat broke with this tradition and adopted a hostile line towards parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal,” said Effat. “Egypt is passing through difficult political and economic times. He did not seem to understand this.”
Effat Al-Sadat was nonetheless unhappy about parliament’s hasty decision to expel his brother. “The accusations against Anwar Al-Sadat should have been studied more carefully by parliament because I am sure that he had no intention of defaming parliament in foreign circles.”
Effat said the Talla district, where late president Sadat was born, would remain keen to elect a Sadat family MP.
Businessman Zein Al-Sadat has also registered as a candidate. He issued a statement saying he had decided to stand to ensure the family’s parliamentary and political history in Talla continued.
Zein Al-Sadat said two Sadat family members competing for the same seat “will do no harm”.
“I have a lot of popularity in Talla, as does Effat. It is up to citizens to elect who they believe will best serve their interests,” said Zein.
The majority pro-government Support Egypt parliamentary bloc has announced it is backing Effat Al-Sadat in Talla.
Effat welcomed the endorsement which he said came after his pro-regime views were sounded out by the bloc. “We hope to send a message to citizens in Talla that the Sadat family is as keen as it has always been to promote their interests,” said Effat.
President Sadat was elected as Talla’s MP for the first time in 1956. “He remained Talla’s representative until he became president in 1970,” says Effat. “Following his assassination in 1981 members of the family opted to withdraw from politics. Then, in 2004, my late brother Talaat won the seat and since then the family has been the dominant political force in this district.”
The brothers face a strong challenge from Atta Tayel. The son of a former MP, Tayel says his popularity has surged since Anwar Al-Sadat lost his seat.
“I hope Talla citizens have become aware that there is a lot of corruption in the Sadat family and that they have to change blood this time,” said Tayel.
A second by-election is due to be held in the Sharqiya governorate district of Abu Kebir on 11-12 April where voters will elect a replacement for Ali Al-Moselhi who last month was appointed minister of trade and supply.